International Bargaining Forum concludes negotiations, recognizing seafarers’ Covid sacrifice

The International Bargaining Forum (IBF) Framework Agreement between the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and the Joint Negotiating Group (JNG) sets the terms, conditions and pay for the world’s international seafarers working aboard vessels flying the flag of an open register designated as flag of convenience by the ITF.

The ITF and JNG met from 1-3 September 2021 for important negotiations on wage increase and other cost elements. Due to the pandemic, the social partnership had agreed to defer the start of the negotiations for the period 2021-2022, initially scheduled for March 2020.

The negotiations were particularly challenging due to the profit variations in the industry, as well as the increased operational costs due to the pandemic.  However, both parties acknowledged the need to recognize the sacrifices that seafarers have made during the pandemic, continuing to keep global trade moving whilst unable to return home following the expiry of their contracts, and receiving no wage increase in 2021.

The negotiations were successfully concluded with the following agreement:

  • An increase on wages and compensations of 3% from 1 January 2022
  • An increase on wages and compensations of 1.5% from 1 January 2023
  • An increase in JNG members’ rebate from the ITF Welfare Fund to 20% to contribute to the IBF Seafarers Support Fund

Prior to the negotiations the social partners have had a period of exceptionally close cooperation, with both sides being deeply frustrated by the treatment of seafarers during the Covid-19 pandemic by the world’s governments. Blocked from accessing crew change to go home at the end of contracts, and even barred from many countries’ hospitals, labor and employer groups have been engaged in joint efforts to ensure seafarers’ rights are restored.

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